Whether you negotiated a divorce agreement or went to trial, your divorce isn’t finalized in Arizona until the judge issues a divorce decree. This contains your agreements and orders about property division, each parent’s legal decision-making authority, parenting time arrangements and support.
Your divorce decree is a court order, and both parties must comply with its terms. With that in mind, there may be terms you need to comply with right away. If your decree requires one party to buy life insurance, for example, that party should obtain the policy within a reasonable period of time. Likewise, you should make any necessary property transfers as soon as possible.
Beyond following through on the orders in your divorce decree, there are a number of things you still need to do to complete the division of your financial lives. Here is a list of some common issues:
Change your beneficiaries. Your will or estate plan is probably set up to leave most of your estate to your spouse. It’s time to update that, along with the beneficiary designations, as applicable, on your life insurance policy, retirement accounts and brokerage accounts.
Update your emergency plan. You may have given your spouse a power of attorney for finances and/or a durable health care power of attorney. These documents allow a designated person to make financial and medical decisions on your behalf if you should become incapacitated. You should get new ones designating a new, trusted person. You should also update your emergency contact at work and wherever else you may have listed your spouse.
Retitle joint assets, if possible. If you and your spouse are both on the title to your house and home mortgage, you probably want one person taken off the title and released from responsibility for the mortgage. However, lenders may require you to refinance the house in order to do this. You should retitle your car and any other joint assets, as well.
Separate your bank accounts and credit cards. If your spouse is a joint account holder or authorized user of any of your bank or credit card accounts, it is time to remove them. In many cases, this may require closing accounts and opening new ones.
Change your name, if applicable. The first step is to present a certified copy of your divorce decree to the Social Security Administration and your local Motor Vehicle Services department, along with the U.S. Department of State, if you need to change your name on a passport. After you have a new driver’s license, you can more easily change your name on other accounts.